Encompass HealthCare is a Designated Dignity Zone.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” -Plato
We judge wounds. We judge wounds for thickness, infection, progress, depth, width and length. We judge treatment effectiveness and we’re not afraid to change modalities from one moment to the next. After all, there is no dignity in hanging on to a treatment plan that isn’t healing.
As for why a particular wound isn’t healing, we’re some of the highest judges in the land. We’re like the Supreme Court of wound care. But if you ask us to judge a patient as a person, we don’t have a clue and we don’t want one. Because just like in our legal system, where justice is supposed to be blind, we in wound care must be blind at times.
We have to be blind by not judging patients on who they are and to judge only on what they have going on medically. Otherwise, dignity suffers. And once violated, a piece of it is missing forever.
Patients suffer indignities all the time. Like the overweight patient who has to step on the scale at every doctor visit and then watch the nurse’s face contort a little. Or the diabetic patient who gets told his hemoglobin 1Ac is not just slightly elevated, it’s through the roof.
It’s a slap on the wrist and dignity suffers. You put on a paper gown and it rips when you sit on the examination table and dignity suffers.
So how do we preserve one of the most basic of human needs, the need for dignity, when it keeps getting chiseled away in seemingly every facet of healthcare? How do we learn not to contort our faces as if we’re disappointed in our patients when they gain weight, can’t control their sugar or bust through their flimsy gowns?
Is it even possible to hide our feelings in order to preserve a patient’s dignity?
The answer is not to hide our feelings, but to focus on just one feeling: compassion. By showing compassion over disappointment in our practices, dignity is preserved. When we focus on offering compassion, we automatically do whatever it takes to preserve dignity.
That means we investigate and then purchase larger disposable gowns. We go out of our way to eliminate any form of embarrassment a patient might experience inside our wound care center. We develop and nurture an encouraging way of being that says to the patient non-verbally, “we are behind you and support you 100%.”
When people ask me what is so different about our wound care center that has patients raving about the treatment they receive, I usually point to our complimentary nutrition bar or that our hours are flexible, or that we’re on top of the latest advancements in skin substitutes.
But the truth is we’ve become stronger and more comfortable with our compassion. It’s become our primary way of being. Compassion is very infectious and we hope that we never recover from it. Compassion makes our entire office a Designated Dignity Zone.
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